Inward Out

Come and sit, lie, relax, in the company of others, in stillness and silence…meditate upon your inner world, the surrounding space, wherever your awareness leads…or witness the ‘spectacle’ and atmosphere of others in their contemplation around you…or do both.

Inward Out was first presented as work-in-progress at Nottingham Contemporary in November 2011 and previewed in the ‘Musse Festival’ at The Orangerie, Köln in September 2012. In 2013 it appeared as part of ‘Sacred’ at Chelsea Theatre, London, in Dance4’s ‘Nottdance’ at The Carnegie Room, Northampton City Library, and at Lincoln Drill Hall.


Inward Out is a participatory event, which invites people to connect with the themselves and each other through the dual process of meditation and observation - two different yet similar experiences. Through this it blends together meditation and ‘performance’ - two activities, that might otherwise be thought not to go with one another and have seemingly opposing intentions. The event is durational, lasting up to 4 hours. The audience-participators can stay as long or as little as they like and leave and re-enter as at will. Whether meditating or observing people sit and lie in and amongst one another, rather than separately. To switch between modes there’s no need to move position or place, though this can be done easily.

There are a number of ‘artists’ present, who ‘hold’ the space, but they are unrecogniseable from anybody else. For all people, experienced and inexperienced meditators alike, there is a hand out with some guidelines (rather than instructions) as to how they might use their time in the room, without it being proscriptive about the kind of meditative or observational activity they should involve themselves in. The space is re-designed for each new space, with mats, chairs and blankets being sourced from local organisations, artists, and individuals.

The event questions whether creativity (even artistic creativity) essentially involves ‘activity’. It gives explicit significance to the creativity of silence and stillness. The notion being that everything that is ‘going on’ is happening on the inside (rather than outside) - that the internal experience is the ‘performance’ and potentially complete in itself, being both experienced and witnessed simultaneoulsy and spontaneously. Meanwhile people choosing to take an observing role, for some or all of their stay, are given the opportunity, perhaps for the first time, to study other people in stillness and silence close up. Not often is one invited to intimately observe someone who isn’t known to ourselves, or who isn’t ‘performing’ for us. In this ‘intimacy’ people witness changes on a micro rather than a macro level and get a chance to appreciate others as living sculptures…… as ‘still life’.

Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Commissioned by Dance4 with support from Chelsea Theatre.

Presentation at the ‘Musse Festival’ in Köln supported by the British Council.

Inward Out is produced by Dance4. For further information contact Stuart Allen at 0115 941 0773

Photo: David Severn